Trump tariffs will further endanger endangered animals

Trump tariffs will further endanger species on the climate change hit list

Americans need to just accept the fact that the Chinese have gotten ahead of us on solar panel manufacture. China saw an opportunity and ran with it. Americans sat around with their thumbs up their butts, claiming that solar power would never work.

Fast forward about twenty years. Now U.S. solar manufacturers want to be protected from competition from China, where manufacturers have figured out how to deliver efficient products for cheap. China’s motives may have been entirely rooted in profit, but somehow they have become the world’s savior in the fight against climate change.

Instead of crying into our diapers, the U.S. needs to find the next cool, earth-saving technology.

That’s the message U.S. President Donald Trump should have sent to American manufacturers. Instead, he has announced that he is going to impose tariffs on Chinese panels. Tariffs have never worked, and tariffs on China are going to backfire in some huge way that we just didn’t have the imagination to anticipate.

Around this time, you might be wondering what Trump’s tariffs have to do with animals. This is how it works: Trump imposes these tariffs. Fewer people can afford solar panels. Climate change continues apace, destroying many species who simply can’t adapt fast enough to weather extremes and, in particular, changes that affect food supply.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has compiled a list of the top species that are declining rapidly because of climate change. On this list are coral reefs that are the seas’ nurseries. When the coral reefs go, the collapse of the fish industry will only be the beginning. Also on the list are Beluga whales, leatherback sea turtles, koalas, and arctic foxes.

Please sign this petition asking Trump to rescind tariffs on solar energy: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/258/650/626/stop-trumps-war-on-clean-energy-reject-solar-tariffs/

Dear Donald, Jr. and Eric Trump: That kudu horn won’t give you an erection

Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr., sons to the current United States president, are trophy hunters. Posing with a dead elephant in 2012 may be their greatest claim to fame. At one point, they killed a kudu, pictured above.

So it is kind of ironic that Lara Trump, wife to Eric Trump, is an animal welfare advocate. She supports a number of shelters for unwanted pets.

Given this hypocrisy, one animal rights group is now calling L. Trump out.  NYCLASS, an animal rights advocacy group based in New York, has asked her to stop trophy hunting. Starting with Eric Trump, of course.

Why do men, like eric trump, need to shoot endangered species?

Trophy hunting is rooted in the male ego.  Men struggle to find validation through honest work and long-term relationships. So they shoot animals. Trophy hunters, like Donald, Jr. and Eric Trump, always go for large-brained mammals. Animals who can feel excruciating pain. Elephants, in particular, take hours to die because of their size and strength.

And there is no solid line between trophy hunting and hunting for endangered species. A small percentage of men seek out, kill, and eat endangered species. Some men shoot rhinos so they can grind up the horn and eat it. They think it gives them a good erection. Obviously, there’s no science to this. Some people think that kudu horns possess similar properties. Basically, endangered animals are being killed for hard ons.

Let me make this very clear. A kudu horn will not give Eric Trump, or anyone else, a hard on.

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Energy audits are cool

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Some people have a hard time connecting their home’s energy efficiency with animal rights.

But, it might be the case that the best thing you can do for animals is: Improve your home’s energy efficiency. Traditional energy usage causes climate change which leads to the extinction of animals. Animals currently at risk from climate change are polar bears, migratory birds, monarch butterflies, and most frogs, snakes, and other reptiles.

Energy audits typically involve a door blower test that tells you where the cold air is coming into your house. Our energy auditor, Keith Crumes, was the bomb. And we got our energy audit for only $25 through LG&E’s energy rebates program.

Unfortunately, Louisville, Kentucky’s local energy company, LG&E, is phasing out its energy efficiency incentives. Would you please sign my petition to ask LG&E to continue this extremely worthwhile program? Thank you for your support.

The health benefits of trees

By Lynn Hamilton

Most people want to live on a green leafy street with plenty of tree canopy, whether they live in the suburbs, the country, or the inner city.

But now it’s official: a greener street makes you healthier. Omid Kardan, a professor and researcher with the University of Chicago, conducted a survey of residents in Toronto, comparing the health of those who live on tree-rich streets to the health of those on streets more barren of trees.

The results might surprise you. Even in a big city like Toronto, residents in leafier parts of town reported better health. Specifically, their blood pressure was lower, and they were more likely to have a healthy weight. Blood sugar issues, such as overly high glucose, were also fewer in the tree covered streets.

That’s significant because high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity lead to a host of major health problems such as heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, kidney failure, and liver failure, to mention the most problematic. Obesity, in particular, is a frequent predictor of death.

As we know, better health leads to a longer life. But it also gives you more energy and zest for day-to-day living. As few as ten additional trees on a city block give its residents a health boost equivalent to being seven years younger.

There are any number of ways that trees in a residential neighborhood can affect health. They trap pollution that might otherwise find its way into a home. Trees absorb noxious particulates as well as gasses. In 2010, a forester by the name of Dave Nowak found that trees prevented over 600,000 cases of respiratory distress and prevented at least 850 deaths in the United States.

Trees also reduce the chances of flooding and the myriad of health problems that arise from a flooded basement, such as mold and toxic bacteria. They reduce summer heat and encourage people to get outside and take a stroll or a run around the neighborhood. People who get such moderate exercise are more likely to be healthy, maintain a normal weight, and live longer, happier lives.

The recent Toronto study filtered out variables such as diet, age, income, and education. Kardan admits, of course, that he can’t screen out every variable. It could be the case that healthier people choose to live on more tree-lined blocks. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to ignore his findings. And they are backed up by other studies.

Researchers in Japan studied the effects of time spent on Yakushima island, a locale known for its rich biodiversity and lovely tree canopy. These Japanese scientists found that trees and other plants throw off beneficial bacteria and oils that we inhale. When these beneficial elements enter our systems, they fight off toxins and malevolent bacteria that can, otherwise, make us sick.

New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation offers some further observations on the link between trees and human health. The beneficial bacteria that trees exude is called phytoncides. They are a sort of natural insect repellant. Trees throw off phytoncides to discourage termites and other tree-destroying organisms from dining on the trees’ trunks.

Because of these phytoncides, even a short, three-day stay in a forest increases the number of beneficial white blood cells, also known as “natural killer cells,” in a person’s body. The presence of these white blood cells improves a person’s immunity to disease and infection.

Admittedly, much of the benefit people derive from trees is psychological and emotional. But it is also well known that our mood and emotions directly impact health. Stress causes a whole list of negative health concerns including hypertension, accelerated heart rate, and overeating. Increased rates of cortisol and adrenaline in the bloodstream have been linked to stress. A walk in the woods or a stroll down a tree lined street definitely alleviates stress and increases a sense of well being, while providing very real and physiological health benefits. And you don’t have to hike in a remote, old-growth forest to reap the results. Even looking at pictures of trees is calming, though not as beneficial as a walk in a leafy neighborhood.

Trees are especially meaningful to children with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Children with ADHD typically find it difficult to concentrate, and they often do poorly in school because they lack an ability to focus. For decades, children diagnosed with ADHD were routinely put on one or more drugs to help them succeed academically and socially.

Scientists and doctors now believe, however, that spending time among trees is a tremendous help in alleviating the symptoms of ADHD. Such therapy has the advantage of being affordable and it doesn’t have the inevitable side effects of pharmacological treatment. Schools that are built near a small forest or which incorporate a forested area in their construction have the potential to greatly help students with ADHD.

You might be surprised to learn that trees are beneficial to hospital patients, especially people who have experienced a serious illness or undergone major surgery. Hospital patients suffer not just from the complications of their illness, but also from stress, lack of privacy, and fear. Even a view of trees out a hospital window can make a positive difference in a patient’s recovery. Patients with a view of greenery have fewer postoperative complications, science has discovered. They also have shorter hospital stays and don’t need as many addictive pain medications.

The United States had an unfortunate occasion for studying the impact of trees on health. Since 2002, the emerald ash borer, a tree destroying beetle, has devastated the country’s ash trees. Studies found that, in neighborhoods where ash trees had to be removed, there was a serious spike in lung disease- and heart disease-related mortality.

In fact, the Atlantic reports that trees are so important to human health, they save Americans $6.8 billion dollars in health care per year.

More research is definitely needed on the relationship between trees and human health. But, in the meantime, one of the best things you can do for your family and your neighborhood is to plant a tree.

 

 

Fabulous flying foxes are going extinct

FLYING FOXESYou may have caught the “Bill Nye Saves the World” segment on flying foxes. The featured scientist who studies them calls them “sky pups” because some of them look surprisingly like dogs. Others look like, well, foxes with wings. Their faces and necks are covered with reddish fur and they have small pointed ears characteristic of foxes, along with big, smooth wings. They look like foxes and, when resting, pose like Nosferatu, their wings closed around them like a cape. That’s the look of the Mauritian flying fox, also known as the fruit bat.

Mauritius flying foxes might have a chance at survival, except that their government keeps culling them–in the thousands. Approximately every two years, the government authorizes a “cull,” euphemistic word for mass slaughter, of flying foxes because they eat a few farmed mangoes. Farmers are perfectly capable of protecting their crops with sealed nets. But it appears they prefer to slaughter thousands of innocent mammals instead.

Unfortunately, all flying foxes live on islands, and all of them are going extinct. In Australia, laws have been enacted to curb hunting of these animals, but invasive species are still decimating them.

The foxy island dwellers have nowhere to go when they are threatened by hunting or habitat loss. Their boundaries are the seas that surround them. And flying foxes are the original inhabitants of the islands they dwell on. When humans landed on Australia’s Christmas Island, there were all of five endemic species. Humans and the exotic species they introduced, quickly dispatched four. The only original inhabitants are the flying foxes, and they are quickly disappearing.

Please sign my petition asking the Mauritian government to make the culling and hunting of flying foxes illegal.

 

 

The Economic Benefits of Trees

autumn-3043489_960_720By Lynn Hamilton

Cities that protect their trees have higher property values, expanding tax bases, and business prosperity. And yet, many cities have done little to nothing to protect trees on either public or private property.

One such municipality is Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville’s city council member Tom Hollander tried to pass a tree ordinance that would protect both street trees and “heritage trees” on private land. The originally proposed ordinance would have protected trees of a certain height and width, trees that provide shade and flood protection to several houses in the neighborhood, from being capriciously cut down by their owners.

But by the time council members and developers had chipped away at it, the tree ordinance passed is possibly worse than useless. It allows people to replant smaller trees than previously when they cut down trees on public land.

Every town and city needs a tree ordinance that protects trees on both private and public land, because trees positively impact economic development and protect neighborhoods from flooding and overheating.

According to New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, “One hundred mature trees catch about 139,000 gallons of rainwater per year.”1

In many parts of Louisville, rain water truly has nowhere to go but directly to our basements or, in the absence of a basement, our houses. The city’s Germantown neighborhood is a case in point. One hundred year old houses, built only four or fewer feet apart, combined with near complete deforestation of street trees leaves people with flooded cellars on a regular basis.

Many of us are also suffering the high utility costs of a treeless neighborhood: “Strategically placed trees save up to 56% on annual air-conditioning costs. Evergreens that block winter winds can save 3% on heating.”1 Trees are also well known to buffer homes from wind damage.

A replacement sapling does not fill the place of a mature tree. In most cases, it will take a sapling at least twenty years to begin to replace a mature tree.

I know that the Louisville’s mayor’s office is very interested in what is happening with the municipality’s peer cities, so I did some research on the most economically successful of these cities and found that they have all taken measures to protect their trees.

Nashville, which has gotten far ahead of Louisville in terms of population growth and economic development, requires homeowners to plant trees to restore tree density to the area: 1. “Each property . . . shall attain a tree density factor of at least fourteen units per acre using protected or replacement trees, or a combination of both.”2

Indianapolis protects all flora of more than twelve inches in height on public property: “No person shall damage, remove, deaden, destroy, break, carve, cut, deface, trim or in any way injure or interfere with any flora that is located in or on any public street, alley, right-of-way, place or park within the city without the written consent of the division of construction and business services first obtained, except as may be necessary in an emergency to remove or abate any dangerous or unsafe condition.”5

Charlotte, North Carolina protects trees on public land and private land. They recognize heritage trees which were removed from the current Louisville tree ordinance.6

Cincinnati’s tree ordinance protects public trees.3,4  Columbus, Ohio plants 2000 trees every year to mitigate loss of trees through tree removal.7 Dayton, Ohio forbids removal of public trees without a permit.8

As you can see, there is every reason to pass a tree ordinance that protects significant trees on both private and public property. Today’s recommended action: Obtain a copy of your local tree ordinance. If you don’t have one, call a city council member and ask him to start the process of creating one.

If your town already has a tree ordinance, read it and offer suggested improvements to your local leaders.

 

References

  1. “Economic Benefits of Trees”. Department of Environmental Conservation. New York State. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  2. “SUBSTITUTE ORDINANCE NO. BL2008-328”. gov. City of Nashville, TN. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  3. “Urban Forestry”. com. City of Cincinnati, Ohio. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  4. “Urban Forestry”. com. City of Cincinnati. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  5. “TREES AND FLORA”. com. City of Indianapolis. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  6. “Chapter 21 – TREES”. com. City of Charlotte, North Carolina. Retrieved 27 November2017.
  7. “Recreation and Parks Department”. gov. City of Columbus, Ohio. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  8. “City of Dayton, Ohio Zoning Code”. org. City of Dayton, Ohio. Retrieved 27 November 2017.